Ruth Bond is an excellent speaker, so passionate about her role as WI National President; it was very inspiring listening to her throughout the day. She described a typical day, including one incident when she was in M & S buying underwear when the Minister for Education rang her mobile!
Thanks to the resolutions WI members have supported in the past, Ruth and the Trustees spend a great deal of time meeting with industry leaders, government ministers, charity workers... the list goes on. They had some success to report on the the Care not Custody campaign, which has made a big impact on recent legislation and secured financial support, and on the Save our Libraries campaign.
They are launching an updated website on which each Federation and each individual institute will be able to have their own pages; we'll be able to share much more of what is going on at grass roots level! Now that's what I call progress! Exciting!
Denman College has not had a good year financially; they need more students! The Do it for Denman initiative last year raised £54,000 - can we do it again this year, please?
The speakers were fascinating and very entertaining: Julian Fellowes (who won an Oscar for writing Gosford Park. He also wrote Downton Abbey) and the scientist Dr Maggie Aderin Pocock, such an enthusiastic ambassador for girls becoming scientists.
The debate about midwives: The NFWI calls on the government to increase investment in the training, employment and retention of midwives in England and Wales to ensure services are adequately resourced and are able to deliver a high standard of care.
We heard an impassioned speech from the proposer, a midwife member of Horwich WI and from the President of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) who explained the difficulties facing them.
A minister from the department of Health put the case against the motion, making reference to a lot of very interesting statistics. He completely omitted to mention the funding issues!
When the debate was thrown open to the floor, there were comments from people who had nothing but high praise for the care they had received in their personal experience, several comments from women who had been trained as midwives and had moved on to other areas of health care, all asking where the extra funding is to be found? Will it be diverted from cancer patients? those with alzheimers/ and so on. The president of the RCM was asked directly when did she expect the finding to come from? I didn't feel she answered the question. Other comments were in support of the proposer, describing the almost impossible situation in which midwives are expected to work.
The vote was (roughly!) 5,000 for the motion and 200 against!
After lunch, those of us willing to have a go, (some just sat and watched... how dull!) took part in the Guinness Book of Records challenge to have people knitting together in one place for 15 minutes! You probably read about it in an earlier issue of WI Life, showing us the pattern for making knitted chains. It is in connection with the Craft Club who hava a project at Greenwich where children are building a boat from recycled materials. Our efforts have provided the anchor chains! There may be a photo in County News, as my neighbour (also from Somerset) took several photos! Apparently it takes about 3 months before we know if we broke the record!
And finally we had a treat! Four members of the BBC TV programme Strictly Come Dancing came to dance for us: Kristina & Robin and Kara & Artem. They were great!